Friday, August 31, 2007

Peru day 15: Tarapoto > Río Shilcayo

Hiked up the Río Shilcayo today for numata and ithomiines. After a few days of heavy rain, conditions were slightly more comfortable with a cool breeze at times. From Achual in Tarapoto, soaring higher than the vultures was a pair of Swallow-tailed Kites and in the gardens, three or four Huallage Tanagers – a Peruvian endemic. Several species of stunning blue Morpho butterflies were bombing along their territories on the river and Boca Toma is a good advantage point to observe them passing at close range. I may try and photograph them in flight here later in the week. The Black Phoebe, a fairly terrestrial Tyrannid flycatcher which sallies from rocks and lower branches, is fairly common amongst the boulders in the fast flowing areas here. One pair has a nest in an undercliff area at Boca Toma constructed from mud pellets in much the same was as a Barn Swallow though involving considerably more effort - the cyclindrical assembly is about 20 cm high! A large Band-bellied Owl was flushed from a quebrada in thick forest and it disappeared quickly, with no difficulty in navigating through the dense tree cover. Higher up, Mathieu disturbed a “bittern-like” bird from a pool. On catching up I was pleased the bird had retreated to a nearby visible tree and turned out to an immature Fasciated Tiger-Heron. Buff-rumped Warblers, a terrestrial Parulid, were fairly common and a Green Kingfisher was also seen briefly.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Peru days 12-13: Tarapoto

Had continuous rain for most of today. Yesterday I added more species to my garden list including Grayish Saltator, Yellow-headed Cararca, Common Tody-Tyrant, Pale-legged Hornero, and Gilded Barbet.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Peru day 11: Tarapoto > Boca Toma del Río Shilcayo

Walked up the Río Shilcayo from El Achual to Boca Toma and recorded about 50 species before breakfast. This was before even reaching any decent forest, by which point it was time to head back. Many more unidentified hummers were zipping past all the time. The following were noted in various chakras, scrub, secondary forest, and pasture:

Black-billed Thrush
Great Kiskadee
Southern House Wren
Fork-tailed Palm Swift
Blue-gray Tanager
Tropical Kingbird
Shiny Cowbird
Cattle Egret
Palm Tanager
Saffron Finch
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Canary-winged Parakeet
Cobalt-winged Parakeet
Blue-crowned Motmot
American Black Vulture
Smooth-billed Ani
Ruddy Ground Dove
Blue-black Grassquit
Gilded Barbet
Green Violetear
Piratic Flycatcher
Eared Dove
Tui Parakeet
Trogon sp. (calling)
Turkey Vulture
Silver-beaked Tanager
Short-tailed Swift
Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finch
Gray-rumped Swift
Buff-breasted Wren
Needle-billed Hermit
Social Flycatcher
Buff-rumped Warbler
Streaked Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Spot-winged Antbird
Violet-fronted Brilliant
Squirrel Cuckoo
Pale-legged Hornero
White-banded Swallow
Green-and-gold Tanager
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Red-eyed Vireo
Magpie Tanager
Black-throated Mango
Yellow-tufted Woodpecker
Blue-and-white Swallow

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Peru days 9-10: Tarapoto > Pongo de Caynarachi >Yurimaguas

Best birds noted on this two day numata-chasing trip were Fulvous-crested Tanager, Cuvier’s Toucan, Brown-mandibled Aracari, Variable Antshrike, Purple Honeycreeper, Paradise Tanager, Buff-throated Foliage Gleaner, Elegant Woodcreeper, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, White-beared Hermit and American Purple Gallinule. Also lots of Saddle-backed Tamarins and Amazon Red Squirrel.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Peru days 7-8: Tarapoto

Here are some photographs from the garden and rented house we are living in. I added a new species to my Peru list without leaving the garden this morning – a pair of Turquoise Tanangers! Also noted were Great Kiskadee, Palm Tanager, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Eared Dove, Silver-beaked Tanager, Smooth-billed Ani, several Phaethornis hummingbirds, a Motmot singing nearby and the usual dozens of Black and Turkey Vultures soaring overhead. The small garden could easily have a butterfly species list of more than 100.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Peru days 2-6: Tarapoto > Pongo de Caynarachi >Yurimaguas

I’ll try and keep the blog ticking over the next month while I’m based in Tarapoto on the eastern slope of the Andes/edge of the Amazon Basin. I’m doing field work with Jaewoo Chung, Mathieu Joron and Lisa da Silva for studies on evolutionary/ecological genetics of mimetic Heliconiinae and Ithomiinae butterflies. The birds out here a very exciting and I’ll post some notes from dawn walks up the Rio Shilcayo and interesting sightings while chasing butterflies further afield. We are living in the El Achual district of Tarapoto this time. For a list of species noted here in previous years see:

We made a four day trip over the Sierra Esaclera (the last ridge of the Andes) to the edge of the Amazon Basin to collect Heliconius numata samples for breeding experiments. This road to Yurimaguas used to be a rough track but is now being surfaced with tarmac. As a result the road is only open during the hours of darkness which means there has been more armed robberies lately. I wasn’t keen to take my Leica bins and DLSR so I didn’t actually identify that many birds. Best were Amazonian Pygmy Owl, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Cuvier’s Toucan, White-winged Shrike-Tanager, Amazon Kingfisher, Spix’s Guan, King Vulture, Swallow-tailed Kite, Red-throated Caracara, Yellow-headed Caracara, Blue-cheeked Jacamar, Undulated Tinamou, Spot-winged Antbird, White-headed Marsh Tyrant and Ferruginous Pygmy Owl. A quick look a the dock on the Rio Hulllaga at Yurimaguas (where boats leave for Iquitos) produced Black Skimmer, Hoatzin, Spotted Sandpiper, Rufescent Tiger-Heron.